Module Catalogue 2019/20

HIS3181 : The American Civil War, 1861-1865

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Susan-Mary Grant
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment

N/A

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment

N/A

Aims

The American Civil War was the formative event of American history, the war that defeated the secessionist challenge and established the modern American nation. Although the war ended in 1865, it continues to resonate in present-day America, at the extreme in the League of the South and the neo-confederate groups for whom the Civil War represents a crucial part of their heritage. This module explores the war years themselves, placing the war in the broader context of America’s demographic, political and social change in the mid-nineteenth century and in the context of other nineteenth-century conflicts; many of which were fought over the issue of nationality. As such, it will not only allow students to study an important part of American history, but also help them to understand how America fits in to the broader themes and events of world history in the nineteenth century.

This module focuses on the formative event of American national development - the American Civil War of 1861-1865 - with the aim of:
•Introducing students to the political, economic, cultural and social background to the war; specifically the developing sectional divisions of the mid-nineteenth century.
•Examining in depth the war years themselves, with particular reference to the leadership of Abraham Lincoln.
•Introducing students to the historiography of the Civil War era, and the role that this period continues to play in American national identity.
•Providing an opportunity both of investigating in some depth selected problems, including the appraisal of selected source material and the critical examination of current historiography, and of acquiring a sound general knowledge of the subject, reading widely in the (primary and secondary) literature associated with it.
•Developing the capacity for independent study.

Outline Of Syllabus

Seminars will be structured around:


•       The cultural and social background to the war, c. 1850-1860
•       The political situation on the eve of war and the ‘secession winter’ of 1860-61:
•       The main theatres of conflict (Eastern and Western) and the main armies/generals involved;
•       Lincoln’s approach to civil liberties, and Democratic opposition to the war;
•       The decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and the role of race in the Civil War;
•       The problems facing Jefferson Davis in the South on the political front;
•       The military and political forces that led to Northern victory; with a concentration on specific battles - e.g., Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg - and theatres of war (Eastern and Western);
•       The war in popular culture, including: the pictorial representation of the conflict via the photographs of Matthew Brady; the war in music; the war in film; and the war in literature.
•       The Civil War as a typical nineteenth-century conflict (or not)
•       The political and social situation on the home fronts; and
•       The image of Lincoln and the Civil War in American memory since 1865.
•       The Civil War’s role in American nationalism

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

In this module, students will be expected to acquire an understanding of:

•       A detailed understanding of the political situation on the eve of the war, together with a firm comprehension of events during the ‘secession winter’ of 1860-61;
•       An appreciation of the political, legal and military positions of the Union and the Confederacy respectively;
•       A broad understanding of events in the main theatres of the war;
•       An understanding of the background to and impact of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, together with a general understanding of the role that race played in the conflict and of the impact of African-American regiments;
•       Lincoln’s approach to the crisis and his handling of events on both the military and the home fronts: his search for a suitable general; his approach to civil liberties; and his skill in dealing with Congress at this time;
•       The military and political forces that led to Northern victory;
•       The political and social situation on the home fronts; and
•       The Civil War in American memory since 1865.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students will be expected to:

•       Develop and improve their skills in research, critical reading and reasoning, sustained discussion and appropriate presentation of the results.
•       Learn to use, effectively, a broad range of primary material, and be able to extract from this evidence both in support of and contradicting the writings of historians on the Civil War.
•       Develop their skills at locating and using material available on the World Wide Web relating to this topic, and specifically to show that they can use, effectively, the Valley of the Shadow website on the Civil War era.
•       Interact effectively with other students on this module via joint seminar presentations.
•       Show that they are able to maintain a level of week-to-week work by contributing to each seminar fully and sensibly.
•       Work effectively in small groups to put together presentations and research papers.
•       Develop the capacity for independent study and critical judgement and the ability to respond promptly, cogently and clearly to new and unexpected questions arising from this study.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching123:0036:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study541:0054:001/3 of guided independent study
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

•       Seminars: encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving and adaptability.
•       Small group work promotes the development of communication and interactive skills.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1801A75N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M25Essay/doc.commentary of 2,000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Exams test acquisition of a clear general knowledge of the subject plus the ability to think and analyse a problem quickly, to select from and to apply both the general knowledge and detailed knowledge of aspects of the subject to new questions, problem-solving skills, adaptability, the ability to work unaided and to write clearly and concisely.

Documentary commentary exercises and examinations test knowledge and understanding of the texts set for the module. The ability to compare and contrast related source texts on a common subject. The ability to expound and criticize a textual extract lucidly, succinctly and with relevance in a relatively brief space, and, in an exam, under pressure of time.

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress.

Submitted work, tests, intended knowledge and skills outcomes develops key skills in research, reading and writing.
This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.
All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:

Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Timetable

Past Exam Papers

General Notes

N/A

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.